South Charlotte

Race to support service dogs

Volunteers Amy Miller, left, Wayne Boulay, Dana Brigman, John Holland and American Pit Bull Foundation founder Sara Enos went through training a few weeks ago in Wilmington.
Volunteers Amy Miller, left, Wayne Boulay, Dana Brigman, John Holland and American Pit Bull Foundation founder Sara Enos went through training a few weeks ago in Wilmington.

The American Pit Bull Foundation (APBF), headquartered in Charlotte, will hold an inaugural fundraising race, the Rescue Me 5K, on Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte. Runners are encouraged to race with their dogs.

“This race is a charity race and all of the proceeds are being donated to Operation Sidekick,” said Jennifer Ondrako, race director. “This program is training rescue pit bulls to be service dogs and then pairing them with veterans suffering from PTSD.”

Operation Sidekick started in January.

“There is a huge need for these service dogs,” said Ondrako, who has heard from veterans that service dog therapy provides relief for depression. “...The service dogs help in so many ways. They are like their buddy, their friend.”

Creating a connection between these two groups can benefit both the veterans and the dogs.

“Four thousand pit bulls are put down every day,” Ondrako said.

But, the training for these dogs is much more involved than regular behavior training.

“The dogs’ training period is usually 18 months to two years,” Ondrako said. “The cost to train a dog is $20,000. It’s very intense.”

The upcoming race will raise funds to help offset the costs for the training.

There is a huge need for these service dogs.

Jennifer Ondrako, race director

APBF, a 501(c)3 organization, was founded in 2010 to promote responsible breed ownership through education, programming and assistance. To achieve these goals, the organization provides owner and public education, positive alternatives to dog fighting, programs to endorse and recognize responsible breed ownership, medical and financial assistance programs for dogs with responsible owners and assistance in the adoption of pit bulls to responsible individuals and families.

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